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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Hoffman|
|Produced by||Lisa Henson
|Written by||Zeke Richardson
|Music by||Mark Mothersbaugh|
|Edited by||Craig Herring|
|Release dates||October 10, 2003|
|Running time||87 minutes|
Good Boy! is a 2003 comedy film, directed by John Robert Hoffman and produced by Jim Henson Pictures, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and starring 7 talking dogs. The film stars Liam Aiken as Owen Baker, as well as the voices of Matthew Broderick, Delta Burke, Donald Faison, Brittany Murphy, Carl Reiner, Vanessa Redgrave, and Cheech Marin as the abundant dog characters in the movie. The film was based on the book Dogs from Outer Space by Zeke Richardson. John Hoffman and Richardson collaborated on the screen story, while Hoffman wrote the screenplay.
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Owen Baker (Liam Aiken) is a 12-year-old who has been working as the neighborhood dog-walker so he can earn the privilege of getting a dog of his own. Owen's hard work pays off when his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Baker (Molly Shannon and Kevin Nealon), let Owen adopt a scruffy Border Terrier that he names Hubble (voice of Matthew Broderick). Owen has little time to make lasting friends, so he hopes Hubble will be his best friend.
Owen does have a girlfriend named Connie Flemming (Brittany Moldowan), a girl his age who lives in the neighborhood. But that won't be for long if Owen's parents continue their trend of buying and selling houses. Owen and Hubble get more than they bargained for when Owen wakes up one morning to discover that he can understand every word Hubble says—including the ominous phrase: "Take me to your leaders."
Owen learns that dogs came to Earth thousands of years ago to colonize and dominate the planet. Hubble, who is really named Canid 3942, has been sent by the powerful Greater Dane (voice of Vanessa Redgrave) on a mission from the Dog Star Sirius 7 to make sure dogs have fulfilled this destiny.
The dogs Owen walks include pampered Poodle Barbara Ann (voice of Delta Burke), cool Boxer Wilson (voice of Donald Faison), nervous Italian Greyhound Nelly (voice of Brittany Murphy) and gassy Bernese Mountain Dog Shep (voice of Carl Reiner).
Despite the best efforts of Owen and this rag-tag group of neighborhood dogs to convince Hubble that everything is fine with Earth's dogs, Hubble soon discovers the awful truth about Earth dogs: "You're all pets!" Things get worse when Hubble learns that the Greater Dane is headed for Earth to do her own inspection. If things don't look right, all dogs on Earth will be recalled to Sirius 7.
Owen and Hubble have to work together to prepare the neighborhood dogs for a visit from the Greater Dane and her Chinese Crested henchman (voice of Cheech Marin). Owen, Hubble, Connie, and their canine pals set out to whip the other dogs into shape so that they can pass muster. Over the course of the attempts, Owen and Hubble develop a close friendship and Hubble slowly starts to act more like an Earth dog, defending Owen against two neighborhood bullies named Frankie and Fred (Hunter Elliot and Mikhael Speidel) and trying to learn how to play fetch.
Ultimately, the Greater Dane shows up and is disgusted by what she sees and recalls all dogs home despite Owen's pleas which anger her more as humans aren't supposed to be able to communicate with dogs. The dogs are allowed to say goodbye and Hubble admits he really does like Owen, but doesn't know how to express that very well as he doesn't know Earth customs. Hearing Hubble tell him is enough for Owen as he's the only person whose dog can actually tell them that. When Hubble leaves, he leaves his rock necklace (a symbol of his homeworld) for Owen to remember him by. After the dogs leave, all of the owners are depressed and Owen's family prepares to move. Owen repairs Hubble's communicator and sends out a message to Hubble about how much he cares for him and the Greater Dane gets it. The message intrigues her and she asks Hubble about why dogs on Earth are like this. Hubble believes that it's the love between humans and dogs and the partnership that creates a great loyalty between the dogs and their humans. When asked about his own loyalty, Hubble tells the Greater Dane to call him Hubble rather than Canid 3942, showing that his loyalty is to Owen. The Greater Dane allows the Earth dogs to return to Earth and declares them a separate breed. Hubble is allowed to return as well and reunites with Owen, but has to remove Owen's ability to understand the dogs as the condition to his return. The dogs all reunite with their owners and Hubble becomes Owen's dog permanently and Owen's parents decide not to move again and to stay. The movie ends with the dogs playing with Owen and Connie again and Hubble has now finally mastered the game of fetch. Hubble is also a lot more affectionate to Owen after his return.
- Liam Aiken as Owen Baker
- Kevin Nealon as Mr. Baker
- Molly Shannon as Mrs. Baker
- Brittany Moldowan as Connie Flemming
- Hunter Elliott as Frankie
- Mikhael Speidel as Fred
- Patti Allan as Ms. Ryan
- Benjamin Ratner as Wilson's Dad
- Peter Flemming as Wilson's Other Dad
- George Touliatos as Mr. Leone
- D. Harlan Cutshall as Mr. Fleming
- Brenda M. Crichlow as Mrs. Fleming
- Paul Vogt as Dog Catcher
- Matthew Broderick as Hubble
- Donald Faison as Wilson, a Boxer
- Delta Burke as Barbara Ann, a poodle
- Carl Reiner as Shep
- Brittany Murphy as Nelly, a
- Vanessa Redgrave as The Greater Dane
- Cheech Marin as The Greater Dane's Henchman
The bulk of the digital effects in Good Boy! involved digitally altering the facial features of the dogs so that in the film, they appear to be talking or expressing a different emotion (sometimes called CG muzzle replacement). These effects were handled by Rainmaker Studios.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times disliked the way Good Boy! was handled. "Sometimes it works to show their lips moving (it certainly did in "Babe"), but in "Good Boy!" the jaw movements are so mechanical it doesn't look like speech, it looks like a film loop. Look at "Babe" again and you'll appreciate the superior way in which the head movements and body language of the animals supplement their speech."
However, Good Boy! has gained a cult following and many people and channels (such as Access Hollywood, United Paramount Network, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Jeanne Wolf's Hollywood) praised the film. There was also a BBC-animated short film from 2002 that accompanied the entire theatrical release. It is called Hamilton Mattress, and after the release, it was on Cartoon Network. Afterwards, in 2004, it was released on DVD and VHS.